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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 2-6-2013

Wilderness Trapline

Hello friends,

Doug Cibulka has been a friend of mine since grade school, and Doug has been a long time member of the Red Brush Gang, and is one of the few people that I know that will try any type of outdoor experience.

Back in November, we both realized that each of us had an otter trapping tag which were both good for the area around our deer camp (northern Juneau County) Doug and I agreed to team up on a long distance (hiking) trapline, and try to fill our otter tags and also do some coyote hunting on our long treks.

Saturday, January 19th
High 47, low 25

Here is the scenario, Doug and I are basing out of my house (the trapper shack).  My dog Fire is ready to drop, what appears to be, a very large load of pups and this is going to be a really cool three-day experience.

Today, our goal was to make 8 sets for otter and by days end we would hike 10-miles looking for otter sign, while stopping every hour or so to use our mouth calls for coyote.

The air temp is balmy, the ice that we are traveling on is scary bad and because there is no snow and the ice is melting, we see very little otter sign.

I have trapped otter once before and managed to catch a huge male that now lives in my living room.  Doug Cibulka does a lot of trapping in the Portage area but this would be his first otter trapping experience.

Our main weapon would be a 330 Conibear traps, which are placed under the ice, where the trapper hopes that the otter will swim through it and instantly be killed.

Chopping holes in the ice is a large part of this experience, as is pulling “Otter Sleds” many miles.

At days end, we had four sets made for otter and four that might catch a beaver or an otter.

Sunday, January 20th
High 12, low minus 6

Last night, when we made it back to the truck, major winds hit Wisconsin and the temperature plummeted.   Often a major drop in air temperature puts wild animals into the hunker down and save energy mode.  Today, Doug and I walked 9-miles, had two beaver sets sprung (the beaver were swimming with brush in there mouth and the brush was in the traps instead of the beaver) and no otter for our efforts.

Monday, January 21st
High 5, low minus 17 

My dog Fire was doing so much moaning and groaning that I put her in my bed when I went to bed just after 11:00 last night.  The moaning was keeping me awake, so I put her on the floor.  At 12:23, I heard a whimper from her and with the lights off in the house, took her down to the 4×5 foot-birthing box I made, that is placed near my woodstove.  At 1:30, no pups were born so I headed back to my bed with the lights still off.

It’s a good thing I was barefoot because as I was getting in my bed, I stepped on a puppy (the reason for the whimper, was when Fire gave birth to it).  I turned on the light; the pup was still in the birthing sac and looked to be dead.  I took it out of the sac, put its head in my mouth and gave it man to pup resuscitation, just like that it started kicking and the show was on.

By 5:50 a.m. Fire had ten pups in her nest box, there were five males and five females and all was well in this otter trappers world.

Doug and I spent the day hunting coyotes and trying to catch an otter, no luck with either.  We made an executive decision to tag team on our trapline and keep it going until one of us filled our tag.

Meanwhile, back at the trapper shack, I have ten bundles of gold in my living room. Fire is an incredible mother and if you are interested in a quality AKC golden retriever pup, you can reach me in Necedah at

There is never a dull moment or whole lot of rest in this way of life!  Sunset